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New Zealand eager to show fightback as smoke haze threat looms over SCG
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New Zealand eager to show fightback as smoke haze threat looms over SCG

Sydney Test could be affected by smoke haze as New Zealand aim to show some fightback on their so far difficult tour of Australia.

The day two of the Test match on Saturday might bring up a massive challenge as temperatures are expected to rise up with smoke haze taking over.

Cricket Australia will be providing data over air quality and visibility to the umpires, who will then take a decision whether the match should go on or not.

CA chief, Kevin Roberts, in a statement said the conditions will be closely monitored over a period of five days as the board is willing to put health safety first.

With the first two Tests at Perth and Melbourne ending up in heavy defeats within four days, New Zealand will be looking to salvage some pride in the final Test starting Friday.

'New Zealand had to go back to the basics'

Head coach Gary Stead admitted his side were ‘beaten up by Australia again’ in their 247-run drubbing at Melbourne and added they’ve had to go back to the basics.

"We've got to find some areas where we can keep chipping away, make improvements and put Australia under pressure for longer," he said.

"When you get put under pressure for the periods Australia have put us under, then you have to question what we're doing.

Related: Williamson wants his side to mirror the fighting spirit of Tom Blundell

"Australia have three bowlers at 145 kph and a spinner (Nathan Lyon) that's taken over 300 Test wickets so you're always up against it. You don't get a reprieve and that's the hard thing for us."

The positive for the visitors was opener Tom Blundell’s gritty hundred as he is set to open the batting alongside Tom Latham on Friday.

There have been doubts over skipper Kane Williamson’s participation, who had to miss the training on Thursday with flu-like symptoms. Batsman Henry Nicholls has also been undergoing similar sort of illness problems.

To be on the safer side, New Zealand called up batsman Glenn Phillips as cover for Williamson and Nicholls, which shows a slight lack of confidence in Jeet Raval's form of late.

'No intentions of going easy'

Australian captain, Tim Paine, has made it very clear that his side have no intentions in taking the foot off the gas pedal even with an unassailable series lead.

He also hinted that home side might go in with five specialist bowlers, but the decision would be taken after inspecting the pitch before toss.

They could drop Matthew Wade and add in specialist leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson, who has been termed as an exciting prospect by the leg-spin legend Shane Warne.

"The team's doing really well at the moment and it's going to be a tough team to crack into," Paine said. "But I'm here and going to be preparing to play. That's the only thing I can do."

New Zealand had to deal with another blow with Trent Boult ruled out of the series with a fractured non-bowling hand. Boult had picked up an injury when he was struck by a fast, rising delivery from Mitchell Starc.

He was replaced by off-spinner Will Somerville, who has represented New South Wales in Australia’s domestic competition. The local knowledge of the Australian conditions worked in Somerville’s favour, who made his Test debut against Pakistan at Abu Dhabi in 2018.

"The fact he's played a lot of cricket in Sydney during his career for New South Wales will also be helpful as we prepare for this final Test," said Stead.